It’s not often we’ll admit to being blown away. But over a beautiful lazy lunch at Ají, along Palm Jumeirah’s new beach-facing Club Vista Mare, it’s hard to feel any other way. And it’s got nothing to do with the sea breeze.
There’s a whole cluster of different restaurants and bars at this recently arrived dining strip, all with outdoor seating, views of the Palm’s waters and a vibe that feels straight out of any bustling Mediterranean holiday town. But Ají stands out.
Nikkei cuisine is nothing new to Dubai, but the city’s latest contender in the Japanese-Peruvian cooking arena manages to balance creativity, palate-thrilling execution and, perhaps most significantly, value for money.
Many of the staff we interact with on our visit are from South America, and keen to recommend and explain the restaurant’s signature dishes.
We kick off with an order of the shiromi taco, filled with a sea bass and yuzu ceviche, and the oributako causa, which is sold to us as one of the menu’s more classically Peruvian dishes. While the former are light, zesty and packed with meaty fish, the causa owns the table. Fat, tender slices of octopus line up along a dollop of dense, whipped (and slightly lemony) potato, all encircling a tangy, creamy black olive mayonnaise. It’s quite unlike anything we’ve eaten before, and within five minutes, we’re convinced we never want to eat anything else.
The robalo – a medley of seafood served with a light, smoky sauce and a black rice fritter – and artfully presented miso salad (cubes of wilted spinach sprinkled with puffed quinoa) merely confirm our suspicion that this might be one of the best places we’ve eaten all year.
Put simply, really, really good food is rarely this accessible. Prepare to be swept off your feet.
The Bill (for two) 1x oributako causa Dhs50 1x shiromi taco Dhs30 1x miso salad Dhs40 1x robalo Dhs150 1x large water Dhs29 Total (exclusive sercie, Including ten percent municipality fee) Dhs328.90 The bottom line Incredible cooking and great value in a stunning new restaurant strip.